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Tralkor looks at the gold being collected. Too bad he didn't carry more gold. He'd have gladly contributed more... Gold had no real value to him anyhoo. He just acknowledged the fact that other folks value it, more then return servives, as payment for useful goods.
This whole situation feels illogical to him though. According to both his cultural beliefs, and his natural instincts, the obviously weaker critters should simply hand over this information to them, just for letting them live, instead of asking huge amounts of gold for it.
With a suppressed growl, Tralkor mutters "It better be useful information, lizards."
He keeps his club at the ready and his eyes on the Kobolds. If they'd make a wrong move, he'd be ready.
Siel looks Nala in the eyes as she gives the human woman her gold. She was curious about precisely what her comrade was feeling at the moment. It was interesting that she was willing to spend so much coin - something Siel understood mortals valued greatly - on this information. If she were in any way attached to the gold they were spending, she would probably speak up about it...Of course, there wasn't really a reason not to. Whichever action they took, Siel didn't really care, but Nala's reaction would be interesting to watch. The responsibility she felt made her emotions different from the others'.
Nala, Siel breathes, still holding some of her coins - numbers 891, 892 and 893, are you sure avoiding a walk through a dark elven graveyard is worth 1500 gold? She asks. I know you like to have information, and the rest seems to be worth it - apart, perhaps, from the size of their lair, but I'm unsure if we truly need everything. I wouldn't want you to despair again before you've had a chance to recover, the fey says. Due to her eyes being entirely black, it's impossible to tell if she's looking Nala in the eyes, or past her, or at the gold, or at something else.
Not Person_Man, don't thank me for things he did.
Sielís last statement makes only the most minimal amount of sense to Nala, but the rest makes her stop and reconsider. She pauses halfway through her counting. "Perhaps youíre right," she says, not looking up, but studying the ground with a far-away, calculating expression on her face. "As much as I want to know...the usefulness of that information may not be worth the cost. I do think their numerical strength is still important, but at least that information comes comparatively cheaply."
In that case, she collects instead 108 gold from everyone except herself, who puts in 109. Before turning back to the lizards she pauses again. "Any other objections?"
She turns back to the lizards. "We have made our decision. We will buy all of the information except the graveyard. This results in a total of 433 gold. You count it in front of us, and none of you leave our sight until we have all of that information." She checks the items off deliberately on her fingers. "The entrance, their strengths, their language, the size of the lair and the most functional disguise we can use."
Very awesome avatar by Derjuin.
The kobold leader nods. "You will get your information, then." He makes a gesture and the coin-counting kobold darts forward and counts and sorts the coins swiftly, granting the leader a short affirmative nod when he is done.
"The Dark elves live not far from here", he starts drawing with his spear in the dirt, "here, at the 'X' is where we are. Back there is our mine. M for mine. I assume you have seen that. If you travel away from the mine, along the foot of the mountain", he now draws a long line in the dirt, "you will cross a river. It is small and not very deep, you can easily wade through it. Then, beyond the river, you will find a big rocky outcrop coming out of the foot of the mountain. It is oddly shaped like a.....uhmmm, well, we call it Ogre's Bottom." He looks up at Tralkor. "No offence, but it is big and it ehh...."
"Anyway, about two hundred paces...perhaps a bit less for you further along the foot of the mountain you will find a cave entrance. It is about ten feet tall and wide, and the sides are covered with climbing plants. That is where the entrance of their lair is. Can't really miss it, there are no other caves there."
"To our estimations, about four thousand people live there, the vast majority dark elves. We have heard reports of less, only two thousand, but we believe those people never really saw the full city." He looks at you gravely. "Yes, I am not kidding. But herein also lies good news! Other folk live there and visit there. Dragonfolk such as ourselves are not welcome, nor are elves. Normal elves, that is. Ogres, orcs, goblins, you name it, can visit it."
"What else was there? Ahhh...yes. Their strengths. Their society is efficient, hierarchical, with strong laws and even stronger enforcement. I suggest you behave. They have some skill with traps, I must admit, but not too impressive. They are known to use a wide variety of poisons, applied to both their arrows and blades. And traps for that matter. They have strong ties with magic, they are elves after all, and they are said to have grown some form of resistance against magic."
"Then we get to the point of disguise. They speak a dialect of elven, of which they are proud. I suggest you only speak elven to them if you master the specific dialect. Orc is an often understood language and of course the undercommon tongue is spoken frequently. You" he points at Tralkor "are okay and so are you I guess, though I have no clue what you are." He looks at Vrishchika with a puzzled expression. "You", he points at Siel, "have to convince them you are not an elf....we don't see many of those around here, perhaps they know better than I....you are not an elf, are you?" Then he turns to Nala "You, milady, do not belong here. I don't think the Dark elves care much and neither do I, but there might be people that do. Tread carefully."
Nala nods and follows along with the leaderís explanation of the directions. Even if the specifics are interesting, there isnít anything surprising about the content. That quickly changes as the lizard tells them the size of the lair. She tries not to show her alarm, and instead tries to collect and memorize the rest of the information before fully processing the magnitude of the situation they got themselves into.
Once the lizard finishes, she nods to him. "Thank you for doing business with us. If there are no more matters remaining, we should be on our way. We have a long journey ahead of ourselves."
She turns away and whispers to the others, "Is there any information weíre missing from these creatures? If not, letís head out along the foot of the mountain and stop before we reach the river, where we can make a plan. Make sure we arenít followed and overheard." These critters probably sell their information to anyone. Don't want to let them know anything more than they already do.
Very awesome avatar by Derjuin.
Well, well. It seem that it'll be quite a predicament they'll be getting themselves into. A whole heap of distrustful Elves packed together in some kind of huge cave-city. If that wasn't bad enough on itself, they'll be heading in to steal something really valuable to them... Ow well..... Even if things go baaaad, it would still be quite the adventure.
"...Ogre's Bottom..." Tralkor repeats the words to himself, while a huge smile appears on his face. He chuckles somewhat, then listens to Nala.
On her question, he replies: "Don't think there's much more they could tell us, or at least nothing that is worth vast amounts of gold. Only thing we don't know is that graveyard mumbojumbo... Dunno if that's thŠt important though."
"Allright. Nice doing business with you. Good luck with the elves, you will find you might need it. Fare well." The leader kobold makes a gesture and his companions start moving. They are proud, but they are also cowards and after two or three paces one by one they start running.
When the have lizards run off, Nala lets out a long, slow breath. None of the tension she feels has left her. She watches the forest for a moment, and then turns to the party. This is a mess, she wants to say. We almost walked into there without knowing anything. This could be a complete disaster. But she doesnít say any of that.
"Weíre looking for a gem. In a city of this size, it will be difficult to find with any speed. We may spend a long time there, searching and biding our time. We donít even know who among them might have taken it, or why, or where within the city it might be.
"So we should hold off on this until we get settled in there. Prepare for a long campaign. We need to get in, find a place to live. We need to handle disguises and cover stories. Siel, if you can just convince them youíre not an elf, youíre probably fine. While I have some magical dust from back home me that will disguise myself as an orc, it only lasts for two hours at a time. I can renew it every two hours if I really think about it, but tending to it will take a large part of my concentration. Does anyone have a better solution, or any skill making disguises?
"As for cover stories, we need a reason to come to the city, and a reason to wander around. Rather than pretend that we donít know each other, simple and as accurate as possible is best. We know each other. We come from the same place. Does anyone have a good idea for a short, simple common background for us? A reason why we came to the city?"
Nala's disguise score is +6. How does that translate into crafting disguises? Or is it just an acting thing?
Very awesome avatar by Derjuin.
Seeing as a Hat of Disguise gives a +10 bonus and the skill description says 'the disguise', I'd assume it's more about making a disguise than acting.
This is reinforced by the 'acting in character with 5< Bluff ranks = +2 bonus' clause at the bottom.
Anyways, I have +22 to Disguise, +12 without my Hat, so I could probably make Nala look like a petite orc (+10, +12 with Aid Another, vs probably meh Spot checks).
Perhaps, Siel considers, we could say that we lived in an oasis, but orc expansion forced us to travel away from our home and we heard that the city was a good place to go? While she considers how to continue, the fey takes a moment to breath deeply, savoring the strawberry-like smell of worry in the air. For a moment she wanted to actively feed, rather than just passively soak up the suffering of everyday life, to take in every sorrow, every regret, until every fiber of her being was pulsing with barely contained energy.
The moment passed. Her gaze going over the human's body, appraising how her clothes could be changed, were small details would result in a different overall effect, she speaks again. I could disguise you. This, Siel bends her neck to the side to better get at the teardrop-shaped hair clip on the left side of her head and takes it in her hand, showing it to the human woman, could be of great assistance. I can use my own power to change my appearance, so it won't matter much if I need to disguise myself as well.
Not Person_Man, don't thank me for things he did.
Also not a girl.
Last edited by PersonMan : 05-16-2012 at 02:18 PM.
I guess, in the end, it is about looking like what you are impersonating but also being smart enough. About the uniform, about your accent and the way you order drinks (great movie). But let's not make it too complicating.
Borrowing Siel's item sounds like a smart plan. Also, three party members carefully scrutinizing your disguise will result in a nice bonus (the first one to hire twenty commoners to boost his or her disguise will get a DMG tossed at him or her).
In practice, the most important thing to do is getting a 'decent' disguise and then being smart enough to not rouse suspicion through your actions. If you happen to do something 'foolish', we start rolling and we'll see how good the disguise is.
While Nala isnít quite sure how a hair clip can help with a disguise, she agrees to borrow it. "Thatís a good story. Simple, and has some truth in it.
ďIf everyoneís ready to go, we should try to get there before nightfall. We need to appraise the city, and find a place to sleep, if possible. If not, weíll have to make a camp out here." She isn't quite sure what to expect. A city like back home? Or something different? Something more active and urban than the oasis, surely.
Before leaving she takes time to disguise herself as an orc, making sure everyone takes a look at it to test it out. The disguise is uncomfortable, but she will tolerate it as best she can.
Before setting off, she pauses. "Does anyone know of a common orc name? I don't know how well 'Nala' will fit."
Disguise (1d20+16) (bonus from hat of disguise included, but bonus from rest of party not included)
Very awesome avatar by Derjuin.
Nala looks like an orc, or at least like something that has orc blood flowing through the veins. You advice her to lose that bit of humanity, that friendly, concerning smile, though. The group manages to improve her disguise to a level everyone is amazed with, however, you see the problem here: Her caring and heroic character might be her downfall. Her eyes, like always, beam intent and zeal.
Her physical disguise is perfect, now it will all depend on her acting. Also, to your combined knowledge, Nala is a perfectly viable orc name.
The disguise check was perfect. No worries. I gave you this post more as a bonus resulting from the great check...tone down the Nala-ness and you'll be fine.
Nothing stops you from advancing to the Dark Elf city.
Tralkor inspects Nala with a thoughtful frown, then he nods with a content look on his face. "You look splendid. A little too ... ehm ... friendly perhaps, but that shouldn't be a real concern.
I suffer a comparable handicap; Ogres are supposed to be big dumb brutes, I happen to have a few more braincells, which sets me apart.
Just try to blend in somewhat, that's what's been working best for me. Imagine you're angry at everyone in there; pretend they're all responsible for the death of your parents or something... That might help you 'wear' the right Orcish expression.
As for the name; don't make the disguise harder then it already is. Nala is just as viable for an Orc as it is for a human, and responding properly to a different name can be rather difficult.
And in conclusion: The story is slightly vague, there's not a whole lot of Orcs that actually live in oases, or travel alongside fey and other creatures, but on the other hand, I doubt they know much about life outside the city. Us being travelers with money to spend might be reason enough to at least allow us in there."
While waiting for other replies from the group, he checks his belongings, mentally goes through his list of spells and then nods in satisfaction. "I'm ready to venture forth by the way."
Following the directions the kobold gave you, you navigate through the jungle. It turns out the information he provided was accurate: You cross an easily negotiable river and there's Ogre's Bottom, which is, ehm...you are seeing their angle. It does not take very long before you reach a cave penetrating the solid and lushly vegetated mountainside.
The sun's light does not reach far inside. Stubborn plants are aiming to increase their territory, but about four feet in the walls are rocky, and the water covering them makes them sparkle a bit. Those that can see in the dark see that the ten, perhaps twelve feet high cave curves to the left at about 40 feet deep. Every now and then a drop of water plunges from the ceiling to the floor, leaving a small puddle here and there.
At the entrance of the cave you see a three feet high stone column, some 12 inches wide. On top of it rests a stone sphere with a diameter of 10 inch. The column has some simple decorations carved in it, mainly straight lines ending in a curve at the top and bottom. The sphere is more intricately decorated: A pattern of leaves commonly found in these forests forms the basis of the design. Over the centre of the sphere lies a small band that is smooth. On this smooth band there is a text engraved. It looks Elven.
Those that can read Elven:
The language is a bit different, but definitely closely related to the Elven spoken on your continent. It reads:
"On this rock, prove your heritage and be welcome. Fail and be gone."
Nala remains quiet for most of their journey. This orcish expression seems to elude her. Frustration isnít hard to find Ė various incarnations of it have been her constant companion. But she tries not to respond to it in a visible way. Perhaps once she has to actually encounter an orc or a dark elf. Annoyance at them shouldnít be hard.
Her distraction and thought makes the journey go quickly. Once they reach the cave, the column immediately attracts her attention. She takes a look, not wanting to appear too interested. She doesnít recognize the writing, glances to the rest of the party and gives a shrug. She takes a look around the rest of the cave.
Very awesome avatar by Derjuin.
Tralkor visibly enjoys himself on the little trip towards the cave. The untouched beauty of this area wipes away the sour memories of the destructive kobolds. He pauses for a bit when they pass Ogre's Bottom, looks at it from a few angles and the bursts into laughter. "I have to admit it does indeed strike a resemblence. Got to love nature's little jokes."
Once inside the cave, his attention is mainly drawn towards the intruding plants, the smooth rock and the dripping water. After a while he joins the rest at the pillar. He takes a look at the writings and shrugs. "Not a clue. Definately not one of the common languages, probably Elven or something... Can't read that, any of you?"
Those that take a few steps into the cave are see a pitch black nothingness in front of them. Those that can see in the dark see a rocky, barren cave that curves to the left. Inside the cave you are met with an eerie silence, only broken by the gentle sounds created by small drops of water dripping down.
Tralkor and Nala notice nothing special about the object on the column. Perhaps it requires special knowledge or some magical skill to make more of it, but for now it is just a funny statue.
Arrr...I will wait and see whether Siel or Vrishchika has some plans with the column.
Siel looks about the cave, taking a quick look at everything before going over to the strange column. I can't read it, but it resembles the old writings of Heran. That would make it...Elven, I believe.
Not Person_Man, don't thank me for things he did.
Having mostly tarried behind the party, mostly dealing with a slightly miffed otherworldly being sharing her senses for a while, Vrishchika decides to speak up again when she notices she can actually read what's written on the pedestal. She clears her throat, and attempts her clearest interpretation through her gravely growly voice.
"'On this rock, prove your heritage and be welcome. Fail and be gone.' That is what the inscription reads. I'm not quite sure what it means by 'prove your heritage' though. How do you do that?" she manages, shrugging and looking over the pedestal for some kind of noticeable magical effect. "Detect Magic," she says with a wave of a finger, and her left eye begins to glow a red color.
Casting Detect Magic and looking over the pedestal for signs of spells; rolling checks that may be needed if there are magicky things involved:
Siel is right, it is some form of Elven. Vrishchika comes closer as she reads the text to you and starts using her magic. The look on her face tells you she is finding something out and perhaps connecting some mental dots.
Nice rolls :).
Detect magic reveals a moderately strong transmutation aura. It appears to be some form of item that, if activated, performs some transmutation effect. Also, and this is kind of weird, there is a lingering aura on the sphere. This aura looks to be a composite of many, many weak evocation auraís that have pretty much faded long ago...the small traces of magic that remain add up to one blurry, faint aura.
You remember something about creatures you once read about. Creatures that live in the underground world. They are called Droe, Derrow, Derro, Drow...Perhaps these Dark elves are related in a way. Anyway, you clearly remember reading that they possess the innate ability to cast evocation magic that manipulates or creates light. Perhaps....perhaps, these creatures are using their innate abilities to activate this column and sphere and are showing their heritage that way?
"There's actually two kinds of light I can create..." Tralkor mumbles "...one of which I'm able to produce this very second... but, if that one fails to affect it, we will have to wait till next morning for the other."
He then proceeds carefully towards the spherical rock and puts his hands around it. He mumbles some magical words and summons the energy of light onto the sphere.
Tralkor casts Light onto the sphere. If that fails he'll prepare Fearie Fire the next morning.
The ogre approaches the sphere and puts his large, hairy hands on it. Tralkor, as you cast your Light magic no light is actually produced. The energy of the spell is absorbed by the sphere, which warms up a little bit. Otherwise, quite dissappointingly, nothing happens. You raise your head and look at the others, who look expectantly at you.
...So, that's it, or?
Vrishchika and Siel
So, did the Light spell do the trick? Perhaps, perhaps not. You both do realize that IF this is about an evocation light manipulating/producing spell these creatures can cast naturally, Light is not a very good candidate. After all, they are beings of the dark, who quite likely do not need light to function. Chances are they even loathe it.
Maybe this other spell Tralkor can cast, or one one of you might be able to cast is better. On the other hand, the sphere did warm up and absorbed the Light spell.
"Hmmmm... It got slightly warm to the touch, but that ain't quite the desired result I guess..." Tralkor says with a shrug and a slightly disappointed smile. "So ehm... Let's try that again, just to be sure." He once again places his hands around the sphere and repeats the incantation to create a small light source.
After watching Tralkor try his Light spell, an idea dawns on Vrishchika. Of course, it's not light they want, she mumbles. Placing her hands on the orb, she makes use of her lingering ancestral magic on the sphere.
Vrishchika puts her hands around the sphere and produces Darkness. As with Tralkor's efforts, the magic is completely absorbed by the sphere. However, this time it does not heat up. Instead, a mere two seconds after casting you hear the fairly loud sound of a metal object hitting stone *K-CLUNK* emerging from somewhere deep in the cave.